Light up your life with brilliant late spring bulbs
From March onwards bulb flowers get bigger and more spectacular.
Trillium (American Meadows)
Shade and damp loving Trilliums grow in woodland from North American to East Asia. They come in shades of red and white three-petal flowers. They are expensive to buy as they grow slowly. You are better buying a couple of adult plants rather than seeds. In fact I recommend that for all bulbs and tubers as they take years to get going.
Snakehead Lilies or Fritilleria like damp places too. These elegant nodding bells have Checker-board patterns in brown and maroon reminiscent of snake skin and are sometimes pure white. The good news is once they like a place they will grow like weeds and they are cheap to buy.
A relative, which is well worth growing, is Fritilleria Imperialis. They can grow over 3 feet high. The two varieties have either a ring of 3 inch long orange or yellow bells under a green leaf rosette cap. The bulbs are large and so expensive to buy. Plant them on their side on an inch thick bed of gravel to stop them rotting. If water gets into the crown they will rot. They like a lot of water and feeding when growing and will die back down to nothing by mid-summer, when they need to be kept as dry as possible.
Pagoda lilies or Dog tooth Violet are so called because the bulb looks like a dog’s canine tooth. Although they look delicate they are pretty trouble free. Depending on species the flowers come in yellow, white or pink. Like all bulbs they die back in summer to nothing.
The small pink flower in the picture is called Corydalis. Its feathery fern-like foliage comes up in early spring followed by profuse spires of small trumpet like flowers in bright yellow, pink, sky blue or mauve (depending on the plant). These small bulbs love damp, are trouble free, spread easily and will die back in summer. They are stars in their own right but certainly set off other spring plants.
Anemone De Cean with Anemone Blanda inset (American Meadows)
Anemone or the wind flower come in two main types. De Cean (named after the French town) and Coronaria are colourful open buttercup type flowers (anemones are part of the buttercup family). In damp Wales they can be a bit difficult. Blanda is one of my favourites and easy to grow. They look like blue or white daisies- they are tough and will carpet any area under trees over the years.
Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is a relative to the anemone and very beautiful. I remember falling in love with it after seeing it growing along the roadsides in Turkey. It is called the Pasque Flower because it comes up around Easter and has a purple colour, which is traditionally the colour associated with Christ’s passion and crucifixion.
Camassia (American Meadows)
Camassia are a tough family of bulbs, easy to grow, gorgeous to look at. They take any amount of wet and cold coming up year after year. They grow in moist meadows in North America and naturalise very easily. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, as long as you like blue (Which fortunately I do). I have a dwarf pale-blue about 8 inches high and deep violet and mid-blue forms both almost 2 foot high. They also come in white, but I am not keen as white flowers tend to get hammered by the spring rains here and go mushy.
Peruvian Squill are large bulbs that are tough as old boots and have spectacular large blue flowers. They are also called Portuguese Squill.
One legend has it that the bulbs flowered on the Scilly Isles after being washed up after a ship from Peru was shipwrecked. The truth is not quite so exotic. The first ship to bring the bulbs to England in 1773 was from Portugal and called The Peru. The plants scientific name was a mistake of the ship’s name for the country. It’s mistaken but popular place of origin (South America) also led it to be called the Cuban Lily or the Peruvian Hyacinth.
I bought 2 bulbs last year ready to flower for £5.00 in late April. Unfortunately transplanting caused the flower shoots to wilt and the plants died back. This year in mid-January they were about 6 inches high and had been coming up since December with no protection in the garden. Unfortunately the tender leaves got blasted by severe cold weather blast in March. The leaves of one bulb wilted but is now recovering and the other is doing fine.
Alliums and Nectarscordium (Parkers Bulbs)
Allium & Nectarscordium are related to onions, they produce huge balls of individual small bell flowers in early summer. They come in shades of purple, white and blue and some of the more spectacular ones look like firework explosions in the garden. In early spring they produce a large amount of strappy green limp leaves. Late spring they begin to flower. By this point the leaves are dying and unlike daffodils the leaves can be cut off without injuring the plant to leave the naked flower stems.
Nectarscordium, or Bulgarian Allium, have delicate hanging umbels of pale yellow flowers with deep maroon throats. They are very tough, but dislike wet feet in summer when they are resting.
©Paul Andruss 2018
About Paul Andruss
Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.
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